In some ways, we are winning the fight against breast cancer by raising awareness. Whether it's all pink everything in October; local events like Mount Airy's Making Strides walk this Sunday, Oct. 16, and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure the following Sunday, Oct. 23 in Hunt Valley; or the fact that the death rates from breast cancer have been declining since 1989, there's no question awareness of the disease has been heightened over the last few decades.

Yet, with the exception of skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. About 12 percent, or 1 in 8, will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society, and more than 40,450 women will die from breast cancer in 2016.


While there is no surefire way to prevent breast cancer, women and men (yes, though quite rare, men can get breast cancer, too) can reduce their risk by making healthy lifestyle choices like maintaining a health diet low in fats and sugars, and including plenty of vegetables and natural, unprocessed foods; getting a few hours of exercise each week; and limiting alcohol intake.

Mammothons will be held Monday, November 14 at the Center for Breast Health at Carroll Hospital, the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center at Northwest Hospital, and the Herman and Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center at Quarry Lake.

Women are also encouraged to get a regular breast cancer screening, a mammogram, to detect the cancer early when it can still be cured. Doing so can put more options on the table for treatments, including less extensive surgery, and a better chance of beating the cancer. Sometimes, though, life can get in the way of scheduling those regular screenings.

Next month, LifeBridge Health centers in Maryland, including the Center for Breast Health at Carroll Hospital in Westminster and the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center at Northwest Hospital in Baltimore County, will offer free general breast screenings during extended hours at an event LifeBridge is calling the Mammothon.

The day-long event Monday, Nov. 14, is intended to reduce the obstacles that keep women from getting a regular screening. Those interested can make an appointment by calling 888-601-WELL (9355) and must have a referral by their physician, as is required in Maryland. Visit www.lbhmammothon.com for more information.

In recent years, the recommendations have changed on when women should start getting mammograms and how frequently. While the general guidelines are to start annual screenings at age 45, then begin mammography every other year beginning at 55, those recommendations may change depending on your family history and other factors which may make you more at-risk for breast cancer, so check with your doctor to determine the best screening plan, then get it done.

Mammography is still far and away the best way to detect breast cancer and, ultimately, beat it. If you fit the age or risk factors, please, make time to get a screened.